An often-overlooked highlight of Peruvian holidays is undoubtedly the country’s astonishing selection of markets, perhaps forgotten in favour of more famous attractions like the Inca Trail or Machu Picchu.
However, not only are these vibrant marketplaces the ideal spot to find an incredible variety of unique items from across Peru – with Cuzco and the Sacred Valley standing out in particular as beloved hotspots for quality and quantity – but they are also one of the purest ways for you to enjoy an authentic slice of the local culture.
As a tourist, it’s easy to end up with a sterilised version of what it’s actually like to live somewhere else, especially when it’s a place so radically different to western cultures as Peru. But when taking in the sights, sounds, and experiences of the market, you know this is the real deal.
However, with so many to choose from, there has to be some that are worthier of your time than others. With that in mind, here are some of our picks for the top markets you can enjoy as part of your Peru holidays.
Address: Gamarra, La Victoria 15018 (in front of tren electrico)
Let’s start off this list with a market that is entirely dedicated to clothes. Gamarra has pretty much everything you could possibly want in terms of fabrics and variety, with the exception of a lack of alpaca wool clothes. Beyond that though, this is a haven for cheap and affordable clothing. Do be aware, this is one of the most popular and therefore busiest markets in town, so pick your visit time wisely.
2. The Inka Market
Address: Inca Market, Calle Gonzales Prada 280, Miraflores, Peru
This is the place to be if you’re looking for handcrafted objects and other souvenirs to take home and remember your trip to Peru. Unlike our last pick, this market includes the world-famous alpaca scarves and shawls, alongside things like jewellery and traditional textiles.
It’s also a good idea to haggle for a better price here too, as with this being a tourist haven, shopkeepers often try their luck with overly steep prices, but may be talked down to something more reasonable.
3. Mercado de Artesania
Address: Mercado Artesanal de Pisac, Arequipa, Písac, Peru
This enormous indoor market is so massive, it has practically consumed the Plaza de Armas and is a true all-rounder when it comes to what’s on offer here. So, if you’re simply looking to browse an array of unique goods, this is an ideal place to get an overview of what’s available.
4. Surquillo Market
Address: Mercado de Surquillo 15047, Lima, Peru
This is another dedicated market, but this time to food. Surquillo Market is arguably the best of its kind in Lima, with the array of fruits and vegetables – including many local vegetables you will likely not have ever heard of – creating a stunning kaleidoscope of yumminess. This is more than just a place to shop: it is a holiday experience all in itself.
5. Wandering Arts Merchants
Location: Plaza de Armas, Centro, Arequipa, Peru
We’ll end our list with something a little bit different to give you an example of the level of diversity that Peru offers in terms of one of a kind shopping experiences. The Wandering Arts Merchants isn’t just a quirky name for a market but is rather the name of artists who approach people in Plaza de Armas to show you their portfolios, filled with completely unique and often spectacular artwork that they sell for a very reasonable price.
Being approached by a salesman on the street is something that people generally try to avoid, but in the case of the Wandering Arts Merchants, it might just be worth seeing what they have to offer.